In his 2014 commencement address to graduates at the University of Texas, Admiral William H. McRaven shared exactly how small habits can ultimately lead to a better life. In fact, Admiral McRaven said that we can all change the world by simply making our beds each morning.
While this seems like an odd correlation, research studies back up the general idea that small habit formations are more likely to stick and, in turn, lead to the formation of additional healthy habits over time. That’s why many of the world’s most successful people recommend that you form these small, yet meaningful habits — they’ll ultimately help you live a better life and bring you closer to achieving your dreams.
1. Create a Morning Routine
Studies show that the first 90 minutes of your day are the most critical. In these first moments of your day, you set the tone for your motivation, productivity, and overall satisfaction with your life. A well-established morning routine takes the guesswork out of those early moments, which, in turn, fosters self-efficacy and diminishes mental fatigue. As Admiral McRaven said, when you make your bed, that small sense of success spills over into everything else you tackle during that day.
2. Set 3 Daily Priorities
While a clear-cut morning routine gets the ball rolling, you still need a way to harness that energy so that you remain productive all day. Therefore, one of the best habits you can develop is making a daily to-do list that includes 3 top priorities. After all, if you don’t focus your energy, you’ll never attain the results you desire.
3. Schedule Time for Meditation
Studies show that even just a few minutes of meditation provides countless physical and mental health benefits. In fact, meditation calms the mind and decreases anxiety and depression while also boosting concentration and self-esteem. You don’t even need to sit cross-legged and zen out for it to lead you towards a better life; you just need to work some mindful moments into your day.
4. Read 60 Minutes Per Day
You can probably guess what small habit author J.K. Rowling says will make you most successful: reading. According to Rowling, you should “read as much as you possibly can. Nothing will help you as much as reading.” Reading not only expands the mind, but it also keeps you informed and improves your writing skills (which everyone needs… even STEM people). Therefore, you should block out some time each day to read the news, inspirational autobiographies, or even entertaining fiction — it all helps keep your mind sharp.
5. Spend at least 15 Minutes Outside
While you don’t want a sunburn, catching just 15 minutes of direct sunlight each day provides numerous health benefits. Vitamin D strengthens your bones and immune system while also minimizing the likelihood of chronic diseases. Sunlight also stimulates the pineal gland, which produces hormones like melatonin, which regulates sleep and prevents cardiovascular problems. What’s more, just a few minutes of the great outdoors can help lower stress and anxiety.
6. Complete a 5-Minute Reflection at the Day’s End
If you’ve read any part of Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, then you’re probably aware of this final point: Just as you start your day with a to-do list, you should end your day with a reflection on all that you’ve achieved. Whether you simply rearrange your to-do list and cross off completed items or actually reflect on your highs and lows, simply taking a few moments to reflect on your day will ultimately help you improve the next one.
While you may feel ready to tackle the entire world, remember that “you can only eat an elephant one bite at a time.” By forming small habits like making your bed each morning and reflecting on your successes each night, you’ll ultimately achieve all you’ve ever dreamed of and more. So what are you waiting for? There’s no better time to start.